Free Cakes Cambridge

Every so often, you come across an idea that’s so simple and yet so perfect.  When pictures of fabulous cakes started coming up on my Instagram feed recently, I was intrigued and, being a keen baker myself, I decided to find out more about Free Cakes Cambridge.

Free Cakes choc cake

Their concept is straightforward.  A volunteer baker makes a birthday or celebration cake for someone who wouldn’t otherwise receive one.  Partner organisations such as children’s centres, Wintercomfort, Cambridge Women’s Aid and The Teenage Cancer Trust put in a request to Free Cakes Cambridge HQ for a cake, personalised to the recipient’s favourite theme or taste.  The baker makes the cake at home and delivers it to the lucky recipient personally.

Free cakes frozen cakeThe Free Cakes Cambridge group was set up in 2014 by Claire Eudall, an enthusiastic baker who wanted to use her skills for good purposes.  It’s an offshoot of the Free Cakes for Kids community organisation which started in Oxford in 2007 and which today has eighty groups spread across the UK.  Rosalyn Scott joined in 2016 and now runs the Cambridge group of around forty volunteers, the majority of whom are keen amateur bakers living in and around the city, although there are also two professional bakers on the team.

Free Cakes superman cakeYou don’t need any special qualifications to get involved.  “We send out food prep guidelines to our bakers,” Rosalyn tells me.  “You just need to love baking and have a good imagination.  And you must be happy to take a theme and run with it.”  Volunteer bakers get together regularly for cake decorating workshops and, of course, for afternoon tea!

The Free Cakes Cambridge team has created some amazing cake designs, as you can see from the photos in this post.  But it’s not just the gorgeous design that matters.  A special cake made just for them helps people facing difficulties to feel supported and valued, as well as giving family and friends a wonderful chance to celebrate together.

Free Cakes number one cake

If you work with a potential partner organisation or if you’d like to volunteer to join the team and spread some love in the form of baked goods around this city, just email Rosalyn on freecakesforkidscambridge@gmail.com or contact her through the group’s Facebook page (where you can also feast your eyes on lots of lovely cake photos!).

All image credits:  Free Cakes Cambridge

 

 

 

 

Kettle’s Yard

Kettle’s Yard House and Gallery on Castle Street has recently reopened after a lengthy refurbishment which has enabled Director, Andrew Nairne, and his team to create new gallery space to display modern and contemporary art from around the world.

KY frontage
Image credit:  Hufton + Crow

 

The opening exhibition, “Actions.  The image of the world can be different”, showcases the work of thirty eight artists.  “Actions Part 2” will open on 11 April with a two screen film installation, “Auto Da Fe”, from John Akomfrah and paintings by Caroline Walker who, in collaboration with the charity Women for Refugee Women, has painted refugee women housed in temporary accommodation in London.

KY WindowAt the heart of Kettle’s Yard is the house, once home to Jim and Helen Ede who created it from four derelict eighteenth century cottages in the late 1950’s.  With a lifelong passion for art and having worked as a Curator at The Tate during the 1920’s, Jim became close friends with many artists including Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood and David Jones.  Over the years, Jim acquired a significant collection of art and sculpture which he brought to Kettle’s Yard along with furniture, glass and ceramics.  But the Edes equally valued natural found objects and artwork by their grandchildren.  More than anything, they wanted their art to be enjoyed in an informal domestic setting, holding open house every afternoon of the university term and welcoming undergraduates to their home.

Kettle's Yard paintings in house
Image credit: Kettle’s Yard

Kettle's Yard tableNatural light was crucial to the Edes.  The day I visited, the streets were carpeted in snow and the light had a very special ethereal quality to it.  I was struck by the tranquillity of the house and by its colour palette with exposed brick, varying tones of wood, natural linens, pebbles, feathers and shells, all harmonising with the Ede’s art collection to create a wonderful serenity.   Jim and Helen handed over the building and their collection to the University of Cambridge in 1966 so they knew it was in safe hands but it must have been a wrench for them to leave this peaceful haven when they moved to Edinburgh in 1973.

Kettle's Yard greenery in house
Image credit:  Kettle’s Yard

The Ede’s musical tradition continues today with a varied programme of contemporary music and chamber concerts in the house.  New archive and research areas have given enhanced research opportunities in collaboration with the University’s History of Art Department.  A breathtaking double height space is now home to Kettle’s Yard’s education and community programme, hosting a year round schedule of events and activities, many of them free, for all age groups.  It includes workshops, talks, panel discussions and artist led drop in workshops for families every Sunday.

Kettle's Yard education space
Image credit:  Hufton + Crow

At The Garden Kitchen Cafe, you’ll find tea, Fairtrade coffee, cake and light lunches with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.   The Shop offers a carefully curated selection of cards, prints, books and jewellery with ceramics from The Leach Pottery and from local ceramicists Rachel Dormor and Maree Allitt alongside beautiful bespoke wrapping paper from Cambridge Imprint, its design inspired by a Barbara Hepworth fabric.

Kettles Yard carved stone

Kettle’s Yard is a very special place that I know I will return to again and again.  There’s such a lot going on there, far more than I can write about in this post, so do check out the website for full details of all that’s happening over the coming months.  Then go and experience the magic of Kettle’s Yard for yourself.

http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk

Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AQ

 

Cambridge Vegan Market

Cambridge Vegan Market returns to The Guildhall, in the heart of the city, on Sunday 11 March.  Sponsored this year by workers’ co-operative Arjuna Wholefoods, the long established Mill Road vegetarian wholefood shop, you’ll find an enormous variety of vegan products, from food to cosmetics to clothing.

Cambridge Vegan Market Cover Photo Mar 2018
Image credit:  Matthew Bradley

I spoke to Lewis Beresford who founded Vegan Markets UK with one very simple aim.  “I want to create a relaxed, inclusive atmosphere where everyone, whether they’re vegan, vegetarian or just curious to find out more, can come and see what’s on offer and get to understand the food, the drink and the lifestyle.”

Vegan Market fruit
Image credit:  Matthew Bradley

A vegan himself, Lewis knows Cambridge well as he graduated in engineering from Clare College.  So it was a natural step to hold his first Vegan Market here in October 2016.  It was such a success that Lewis now also runs markets in Oxford, Derby and Nottingham with a couple of other locations currently in the pipeline.

Vegan Market cakes
Image credit:  Matthew Bradley

Food stands will include London-based Lola’s Cupcakes with their vegan brownies and cupcakes.  There’ll be five hot vegan food stands, amongst which you’ll find Pho with their Vietnamese street food, Indian food from Home Vegan Kitchen and Cambridge’s own Arepa’s Station with their Venezuelan dishes.

Drinks exhibitors will include Green Tea Artisan, showing their range of speciality teas from China, Japan and Nepal.  For alcoholic vegan refreshment, head over the road to The Pint Shop on Peas Hill where you’ll be able to enjoy a selection of vegan ales, lagers and ciders.

Vegan Fair Candles
Image credit:  Matthew Bradley

There’ll be a range of clothing to check out, all ethically produced and 100% vegan, from producers such as Vegan Deviant with their T shirts featuring quirky slogans.  And you’ll find stalls offering ethically produced cosmetics, including Clean and Natural with its 100% natural and organic skin and hair products.

 

The Vegan Market opens at 10.30am and closes at 4pm.  Lewis recommends arriving early as the venue gets very busy through the day.  Tickets are available on the door and cost £2 for an adult while children get in free.  The first 100 people to arrive will get some free vegan goodies and if you bring your own mug, you’ll even get a free tea or coffee!

http://www.veganmarkets.co.uk

http://www.arjunawholefoods.co.uk

The Guildhall, Market Square, Cambridge CB2 3QJ

 

What’s on in March

February is drawing to a close and although there are signs of Spring here in Cambridge, the outdoor temperature is still extremely bracing!  But there’s plenty going on in the city to get us through to the warmer Spring days, so here’s the what’s on listing for March.  It’s an eclectic mix of events that come to my attention so if you know about an event that could be included, please get in touch through my Contact page.  I’ll update this listing through the month, so do check back when you can.

Railings at Michaelhouse
The railings at Michaelhouse

1st    8pm  Joachim Trio.  Purcell, Beethoven, Schubert and Sibelius.  Kettles Yard.  http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk

2nd   5.30pm  Migration 2018: Migration in Science.  Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue http://www.darwin.cam.ac.uk/lectures

2/3rd   7pm (and 2pm on 3rd)  Swan Lake.  Cambridge University Ballet Society. West Road Concert Hall  http://www.adcticketing.co.uk

3/4th    10am  Innovations in Ceramic Art.  The Guildhall, Market Square  http://www.onlineceramics.com

3rd    8.15pm  The Kilgour Consort.  Bach Mass in B Minor.  Trinity College Chapel  http://www.tcms.org.uk

4th    9.30am  Cambridge Half Marathon.  Starting and finishing on Midsummer Common

5/12/19th    7pm  Meditation and Emotional Intelligence.  Michaelhouse.  cambridge.cea@gmail.com

5th    7.30pm  Mozart and Mendelssohn.  The St Margaret’s Society of Queens’ with MagSoc Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.  West Road Concert Hall  magsoc.soc.srcf.net/tickets

8th    8pm  Fever: Jo Harrop sings Peggy Lee.  Hidden Rooms, Jesus Lane  http://www.cambridgejazz.org

9th    5.30pm  Migration 2018:  Animal Migration.  Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue  http://www.darwin.cam.ac.uk/lectures

10th    The Rising Festival 2018, celebrating International Women’s Day  http://www.therisingnetwork.com

10th    7.30 pm  The Trinity Singers.  Mendelssohn and Dvorak.  Trinity College Chapel.  Tickets on the door.

10th    8pm  The Orlando Singers. Durufle, Vierne, Bruckner and Poulenc.  Queens’ College Chapel  http://www.OrlandoSingers.org.uk

11th    10.30am  Cambridge Vegan Market.  The Guildhall, Market Square.  http://www.veganmarkets.co.uk and see my blog post

11th    7.30pm  CU Chinese Orchestra Society 11th Anniversary Concert.  West Road Concert Hall  http://www.adcticketing.com

17th    5.30pm  Foundation Concert.  Howells and Brahms.  Choir of King’s College with Cambridge University Orchestra.  King’s College Chapel.  shop@kings.cam.ac.uk

17th    6pm  Unleash the Beauty.  Lucy Cavendish Singers.  Emmanuel United Reform Church  http://www.lucycavendishsingers.org.uk

17th    7.30pm  French Connections.  Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.  Varese, Stravinsky, Poulenc and Ravel.  West Road Concert Hall.  Free pre-concert talk at 6.45pm.  http://www.cam-phil.org.uk

17th    7.30pm  Fairhaven Singers.  Bernstein and Durufle.  St John’s College Chapel  http://www.fairhavensingers.org.uk

19th    7pm  Choirs of Jesus College and The Corelli Orchestra.  Bach St John Passion.  Jesus College Chapel

22nd    8pm  Freddie Gavita Quartet.  Hidden Rooms, Jesus Lane  http://www.cambridgejazz.org

23rd    6pm  Choir of Clare College.  Buxtehude Membra Jesu Nostri, interspersed with readings of poetry from 1918 and extracts from Birdsong.  Clare College Chapel.  Tickets from Old Court Porters’ Lodge

24th    2.30pm  NCT Nearly New Sale.  Preloved parent and baby goods.  Sports Centre, Cambridge Regional College  http://www.nctcambridge.org

24th    8pm  New Cambridge Singers.  Scarlatti, MacMillan, Lotti, Bax and Casals.  Trinity College Chapel.  Tickets on the door or from http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk

24/25th    Arts and Crafts Show.  Grantchester Village Hall.  Facebook: Grantchester Arts and Craft Show

26-31st    Arts Fest 2018.  Festival of art, performance and creativity.  St Paul’s Cambridge  http://www.stpaulsartsfest.org and see my blog post

Lenten Rose
A beautiful Lenten rose, blooming in my garden

Cafe Abantu

A pot of really good Darjeeling tea and a slice of the most delicious rose and pistachio cake in this recently opened Hobson Street cafe perked me up on a gloomy February afternoon.  So I popped back (yes … more tea and cake!) to meet owner, Wendy Slade, and to chat about her new venture.

Abantu frontage

Firstly, I’m curious about the cafe’s name.  Wendy explained that the word “abantu” (or derivations of it) means “people” in many African dialects.  Wendy was born and raised in South Africa, where she trained as an accountant.  She came to England with her family twenty years ago.  “But I still miss the drumming heartbeat of Africa,” Wendy tells me.

Abantu pistachio and roseIt wasn’t long before she set up a gift shop, selling Fairtrade goods, at Manor Farm in Bourn, while a friend ran the coffee shop next door.  When the friend left, Wendy took over the coffee shop and taught herself to bake.  Gradually, that side of the business took over and ten years later, Wendy moved the cafe to Wysing Arts Centre, where it won a “Best Cafe in East Anglia” award.

“Then Stickybeaks came up for sale,” explained Wendy, “and our lease at Wysing was coming to an end so I decided to go for it and move into the city centre.”  Wendy and her team of twelve people, including the ex Stickybeaks staff who all joined her, took over the building on 19th January and were open for business at the end of the month.  They had hungry customers queuing down the street on Day 1!

Abantu team

Abantu saladThe Abantu team enjoys working in the open kitchen which Wendy says is run more as a “home” kitchen than an industrial cooking space.  They make all their own cakes and like to keep up with the latest baking trends.  Abantu’s menu changes every day, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients used in a variety of dishes for breakfast and lunch.  There are always three or four salads on offer and Boboti, a South African meatloaf, is a menu staple.

Abantu signVegetarians, vegans and those who eat gluten free are well catered for here and there’s a Bambino menu for kids too, so this really is a destination for the whole family.  Staff are welcoming and the cafe has an airy yet cosy vibe with art from Naomi Davies, a Cambridge artist who works in pen and watercolour, on the walls and a couple of outside tables, ideal for watching the world go by on sunnier days.

 

http://www.cafe-abantu.co.uk

http://www.naomidaviesart.co.uk

42 Hobson Street, Cambridge CB1 1NL

 

Mindfulness of Nature

Cambridge has so many wonderful green spaces and I love to see the small day to day changes in nature as I walk through them en route to the city centre.  Whatever the weather, it feels good to be connected to nature and to be aware of the turning of the seasons.

Last week, I met with Claire Thompson, who is running a range of Mindfulness of Nature courses, aimed at connecting us with the natural world through our senses and emotions rather than our thoughts.  “This in itself is therapeutic.  It’s not about solving a particular problem,” Claire says.  “It’s about enhancing our experience of life itself and exploring different aspects of what it is to be alive.  We’ve forgotten that we’re part of nature and if we don’t spend time in nature, we’re disconnected from something innate.”

Claire T headshot
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Born in England but raised and educated in France, Claire came to Emmanuel College here in Cambridge where she read Natural Sciences, graduating in Zoology, with her particular interests lying in animal behaviour alongside conservation of nature and plants.  During a gap year pre university, Claire worked in Andalucia, Spain, which not only improved her Spanish but gave her a love for the warmth of the culture with its passion for life.

Subsequent summer breaks were spent volunteering on a nature conservation project centred around Pucon in the Chilean lake district, an area of volcanoes, rivers, mountains and temperate rain forest.  This time in Chile had a profound effect on Claire and has shaped her career and well being.  It fuelled her desire to spend time in wild places and to work in nature conservation.  In her late teens, like many of us Claire had experienced anxiety and she found this time in the wilderness amidst the beauty and power of nature, together with a growing interest in mindfulness, liberating.  It calmed her anxiety and gave her a greater sense of purpose.  “Mindfulness gives you a choice as to where you put your attention,” Claire tells me.  “You are not your thoughts.”

After graduation, Claire volunteered in Mexico on a bird monitoring project in a nature reserve.  Returning to England, she worked in Suffolk for World Land Trust (an international nature conservation charity) before moving to Cambridge, where she works part time as a Project Manager with Bird Life International, co-ordinating a project supporting Mediterranean NGOs in their efforts to address illegal killing of migratory birds in the Mediterranean.

Claire T group in meadow
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Claire has also authored two books.  In 2012, she was commissioned to write “Mindfulness in the Natural World” for Leaping Hare Press as part of their series of books on mindfulness and last year saw the publication of her second book, “The Art of Mindful Birdwatching.”

Claire T Byrons
Image credit: Jeremy Peters

Upcoming courses in and around Cambridge include “Introduction to Mindfulness of Nature” workshops at Byron’s Pool in Grantchester, “Introduction to Mindful Birdwatching” at Wicken Fen Nature Reserve and evening “Meditations in the Meadows” on Stourbridge Common.  In May, Claire will lead a three day retreat “Rewilding the Mind” in Snowdonia, North Wales.  Further afield, Claire is holding retreats and workshops in Austria (East Tyrol), the US (Rhinebeck), Argentina (Patagonia) and Chile (Chilean Lake District), the place where it all began for her.  Details of all these and more are on Claire’s website.  In a world where it’s easy, in the hustle and bustle of every day, to live as if we’re separate from nature, here’s a chance to reconnect.  I think we owe it to ourselves to take the time to stand and stare.

http://www.mindfulness-of-nature.com

e-Luminate Cambridge Festival photo blog

Back in January, I posted a piece on the e-Luminate Cambridge Festival and tonight it opened, with fabulous light installations illuminating some of the city’s most iconic buildings.

It’s a really cold night here in Cambridge but I wanted to get some photos, just taken on my phone, to give you a flavour of the event.

Firstly, Senate House with its installation “I See”, created in collaboration with The Ordered Universe Project.

Senate House B and W

Senate House spots

Senate egyptian

Senate blue and green swirls

Senate black and white broken

In Bene’t Street, another moving image projection, “Bright Lights – The Colours of the Brain”, has been created by artists working with Cambridge community groups in a series of workshops.

Benet St

Gonville & Caius College is looking glorious with its installation “The Colours of Caius College” created by artist Patrice Warrener using the Chromolithe technique that he developed thirty years ago.

Caius close up

At The Fitzwilliam Museum, projection artist Ross Ashton has created a colourful projection which shows some of the most iconic artefacts held in the Museum’s collection.

Fitz neon

Fitz women

Fitz Gold

You’ll find more installations outside King’s College Chapel, at Trinity Hall and at the Guildhall.  Full details of all these are on the event website.  It may be freezing out there but it’s really worth wrapping up and getting out to see the city in a whole new light.

http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/e-luminate

This event takes place at multiple locations in the city